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Gunpowder Empire (Crosstime Traffic Series #1)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2004

    A Big Disappointment

    First off I would like to say that I normally am a big fan of Turtledove's work. His previous novels of alternate history, Guns of the South, Misplaced legion, and Household Gods were excellent and in fact I've read them several times. So when I saw tis in the library I grabbed it. The premise sounded very interesting. Unfortunately the story was not as good as I was lead to believe. There was some action, but on the whole I found Jeremy and Amanda to be boring characters, and much too goody two shoes for my taste. Here they are spending a summer in ancient Rome--ancient Rome, a place I've only read about and all they do is complain and groan about how technologically unadvanced it is and how they've got it so much better at home! God help us all! One must also note that the reason why these parallell universes were discovered is because we destroyed all our resources and now have to steal some from the alternates, which of course we can't let them know about. Hmmm now there's a moral dilemma for you. Of course they trade small things like watches and knives and razors for food, but still they don't really mingle with people in that time line. One of the things that disappointed me the most was that he kept harping on all the negative aspects of Roman society, slavery, bad hygenie, no antibiotics, nosy officials (yeah we've got em here too), gladiators, and back again. It got very annoying after awhile. Yes we know there are some things in the ancient world that we could and did improve on, but as a historian there were a lot of things they taught and gave to us as well--roads, aqueducts, indoor plumbing(primitive but it was there!), geometry, philososphy, soldiers who fight like a unit, and I found the statement that the doctors in the ancient world were dumb quite ridiculous. True, they didn't know about antibiotics or the things which caused disease, but there were surgeons (Greek ones) and there were docotors who used herbal remedies back then that had a great impact on modern medicine. If all they did when a patient came to them was sit back and pray a few times over them the whole human race would have died out. I'd say Turtledove missed the boat on that point--if you read some ancient medical texts, some of those Greeks and Egyptians at the medical school of Alexandria were doing brain surgery and their patients lived! But I suppose he nedded an excuse to get the parents out of the way so the kids could have some fun. Except they don't. They don't even try to make friends with the locals, which could have made for a very interesting story. Instead they become moral snobs who can't wait for the dumb computer to come back on line so they can stop living among the barbarians. Huh? let me tell you, if my nephews, who are around the same age got transported to ancient Rome they would be having aball, going to the chariot races, drinking wine, fencing at the gym, talking to some hot girls. And yes, while the majority of the Roman men were sexist, that did not include all of them, I'm sure as there were plenty of outspoken Roman women. And not everyone owned slaves. Slaves were a rich man's luxury--the poor man who lived in insulas couldn't afford them and they too did everything themselves. Sadly, I found this book to be a stereotypical pre-teen novel, and not worth much time reading. It could have been so much better--plotline, characters everything.

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